fbpx

What’s ahead for SMSF trustees in 2022

An election year means super reforms could be scrapped with more changes on the cards if there is a change in government. 

Election years are always fraught with potential superannuation changes, but in 2022 this looks set to be magnified by important super changes that were stalled in Parliament. There is still a possibility Parliament might pass the relevant bills early next year, but with few parliamentary sitting days before the election likely to be called, no one is holding their breath.

The sector was eagerly awaiting the passing of legislation – titled the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing superannuation outcomes for Australians and helping Australian businesses invest) Bill 2021 – which, among other changes, provides greater flexibility for older Australians to contribute to superannuation.

Announced in the 2021 federal budget, these changes were set to start from July 1, 2022. They include removing the work test for non-concessional super contributions for those aged 67 to 74 (meaning they will no longer have to meet the work test when making non-concessional contributions) and, subject to meeting the eligibility requirements, extending the bring-forward non-concessional contribution rules for this same age group.

The government also wants to lower the age for downsizer contributions from 65 to 60 from July 1, 2022. For SMSF members nearing retirement, it will allow them to make a one-off, post-tax contribution of up to $300,000 per person (or $600,000 per couple) on the sale of a family home they have occupied continuously for a decade.

These reforms were not exclusive to the SMSF sector. But undoubtedly that is where they will have the biggest impact.

But for now, it’s all up in the air – and not only for these big reforms. There are some lesser known SMSF changes also announced in the 2021 budget that have not even been introduced into Parliament.

Included are the changes to the SMSF residency rules and a two-year amnesty for legacy pensions. The former will allow SMSF members to continue to contribute to their SMSF while temporarily overseas. Under the current rules, contributions are prohibited unless a complex active member test is satisfied.

The changes to legacy pensions are designed to simplify the retirement system by allowing super fund members in older complex pension products to move to more flexible, contemporary income streams.

No guarantees on timing

What compounds the uncertainty for SMSFs is that even if the legislation is introduced into Parliament before the election is called, it will lapse if it is not passed before the poll is called. It will then need to be re-introduced into the new Parliament or possibly scrapped if there is a change in government.

Even with a re-elected Coalition government there are no guarantees where these reforms will be in the legislative queue.

If Labor wins, changes in superannuation policy are almost inevitable. A tightening of the contribution caps and a lowering of the Division 293 income threshold for taxing super contributions might be on the cards if Labor’s previous super policy is anything to go by. The abolition of new limited recourse borrowing arrangements (LRBAs), now totalling $59 billion at June 30, 2021, is another possibility.

Irrespective of which party wins the election, there will be a new requirement for company directors, including all existing directors of an SMSF corporate trustee, to obtain a director ID by November 30, 2022, and new compulsory electronic data transmission rules to contend with for SMSFs rolling over funds to and from other funds.

That’s all on the regulatory front. It’s anyone’s guess what will happen with investment markets in 2022, with each new COVID-19 variant having the potential to unnerve markets. Although equity markets, in particular, recovered strongly in 2020 after the initial crash, past performance is never any guarantee of what will happen tomorrow. Volatility looks set to be the name of the game in 2022.

With so much uncertainty on the horizon, it has never been more important to seek advice from an SMSF specialist adviser. Whether you are contemplating setting up an SMSF, or you already have a DIY fund, an SMSF specialist adviser who is licensed to provide professional advice can provide valuable and timely information about the changes and their potential impact on your retirement planning strategies.

Amid all this uncertainty, one thing looks certain: the SMSF sector will continue growing strongly, with the number of funds expected to surge past 600,000 for the first time and the number of SMSF investors expected to surpass 1.13 million.

SMSFs are not an appropriate or preferred retirement savings vehicle for everyone, but it seems the more unpredictable super becomes, the greater the appeal for individuals to manage their own retirement savings and retirement income strategies.

Written by John Maroney, CEO, SMSF Association

 

Five things to ask and do before tapping into your SMSF

During our working life, the focus is on building a superannuation nest egg for retirement.

That can seem a long way down the track until that time suddenly arrives. Planning for retirement and transitioning your self-managed super fund into retirement phase can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. It is about getting the right advice, information and knowing how to switch gears from accumulation to retirement.

Have I retired?

To fully access your super, you must first meet a condition of release, such as retirement or turning age 65. Whether you have retired or not will depend on your age.

First you need to have reached your preservation age. This is the age you can first access your super, subject to some other conditions. Your preservation age depends on when you were born.

For those born between July 1, 1963 and June 30, 1964, your preservation age is 59. If you are aged under 60, you also need to have ceased all employment with no intention of returning to work. For those aged 60 to 64, you only need to have ceased employment. A change of job, or cessation of one job if you have more than one, would be sufficient to meet this test.

You will need to notify your super fund, including your SMSF trustee, in writing that you have met the retirement condition of release.

It is possible to access your super as a pension once you have reached your preservation age even if you haven’t retired. This is referred to as “transition to retirement income stream”. However, this stream doesn’t enjoy the same tax concessions as an account-based retirement pension.

Do I have enough?

There is no magic figure on how much you will need in super to retire. It will depend on a range of factors — personal budgets, lifestyle, goals such as holidays or a new car, and investments you may have outside of super. Today, more people are approaching retirement with a mortgage, so this will need to be factored into any retirement planning strategies.

Your adviser can help you undertake a review of your budgets and cashflow needs, looking at how this will impact your super balance over time. How long your super will last is important to understand as how much you take today will impact on how much you have tomorrow.

Reviewing investment strategy

As you shift from accumulation and into retirement, your goals, objectives, and risk profile will change. Also, does your SMSF have enough liquid assets, cash and cash flow to meet its costs and pay your super pension each year?

Before switching your investments, you need to consider any tax implications. Investments with capital gains sold while in accumulation will be taxable in the fund at a maximum rate of 15 per cent, or 10 per cent where the investment has been held for longer than 12 months.

Fund income, including capital gains while the SMSF is paying retirement pensions, may be wholly or partially exempt from tax. How these concessions apply will depend on several factors. If there are members in the fund still in the accumulation phase and others in the pension phase, specialist tax advice should be sought to ensure your fund is structured appropriately.

Paying retirement benefits

Before doing anything, it is important that your SMSF trust deed is reviewed and, if need be, updated. Your deed will set out how your benefits can be paid to you.

The amount you can use to commence a retirement phase pension is limited by your transfer balance cap. If you have not had a retirement phase pension before, your transfer balance cap will be $1.7 million.

You will need to work out how much of your super balance will be used to start a pension. Pension documentation including member applications, trustee minutes and a product disclosure statement will be needed. You adviser will be able to assist you.

Contrary to popular belief, amounts that exceed your transfer balance cap can remain in the super system in an accumulation account. As you have met a condition of release, you will be able to withdraw amounts as lump sums, in addition to your pension payments. However, unlike pension balances, investment income derived on amounts retained in an accumulation account is not exempt from tax.

Review estate planning

One step that is often overlooked is the need to review your estate planning. This needs to be considered before starting your pension. If you wish to make your pension reversionary, that is a pension that automatically reverts to your spouse on your death, you need to include these instructions in your pension documents.

Similarly, a review of any binding death benefit nominations is needed to ensure that they are still fit for purpose.

It is a good idea to start planning for your retirement before the big day arrives. Seeking specialist advice and having a clear plan means you can focus on enjoying your retirement.

Written by Tracey Scotchbrook, SMSF Association

ATO checklist for SMSF management

The ATO has released a range of checklists designed to help trustees manage their SMSF through different stages of the fund.

The new ATO checklist provides guidance covering SMSF management requirements and obligations for trustees.

“Running an SMSF takes time and effort. There is a lot to do and keep track of at every stage of your fund. Use these checklists to help you manage your fund and meet your SMSF obligations,” the ATO said.

The guidance provides a detailed checklist for setting up an SMSF. It also focuses on trustees reporting obligations such as valuing the funds’ assets at their market value at 30 June, making sure the fund has paid any minimum annual income stream payments required under super laws.

It also outlines the ongoing SMSF compliance obligations across investing, contributions and rollovers, paying benefits and record-keeping requirements.

The ATO also outlined the importance of the investment strategy along with the need for regular review and consideration of all circumstances of the fund, including risk, diversity, liquidity and member’s circumstances.

Trustees must also make sure all benefit payments made by the fund have been made in accordance with the super laws and the proper and accurate records have been maintained for required time frames.

The new guidance also provides updated information on SMSF rollovers to align with the new SuperStream requirements.

Funds must make sure to engage an SMSF messaging provider offering SuperStream rollover services and obtain their electronic service address.

The checklist guidance also outlines additional steps to consider when starting to pay an income stream, along with considerations when winding up a fund.

The checklist can be viewed here.

Source: SMSF Adviser

SMSFs see millennial and Gen Z surge

Despite market uncertainty in recent years, the next generation of Australians is seeking to take greater control of their financial future by opening SMSFs, according to AUSIEX.

Recent data from AUSIEX (Australian Investment Exchange Limited) has revealed during the first quarter of FY22 (July to September) that there was a 9.3 per cent increase in new SMSF accounts opened compared to FY21 Q1.

Gen Y or millennials (born 1981-1996) represent the fastest-growing segment of new SMSF accounts. The year 2020 onwards has seen a new pattern emerge, with this group representing 10 per cent of all new accounts – double the rates seen from 2016 to 2019.

During FY21, there was also an emerging trend in SMSF accounts opened by Gen Z (born 1997-2012). The number of SMSF accounts owned by Gen Z investors has doubled in the past 12 months. 

 

AUSIEX CEO Eric Blewitt said recent years of government and regulatory reviews of the super system has most likely prompted greater awareness of super among younger Australians.

“SMSFs have traditionally been the domain of those with higher fund balances and those approaching the decumulation phase,” Mr Blewitt said.

“SMSFs may be appealing to younger people due to the fact they provide greater control over investments.”  

Mr Blewitt said the data was consistent with AUSIEX’s report, Australia’s Trading Transformation, released in June, which found a 250 per cent increase in self-directed investors under the age of 25 trading during the initial COVID lockdown in Australia through to March 2021.

“All of this data is painting a picture of much greater interest from younger people in taking control of their financial goals,” he said.

In recent years, female SMSF account holders have increased, with the male to female ratio for new SMSF account holders now 1 to 1.33. One in three Gen Y/Gen Z investors is female. This is consistent with data published in Australia’s Trading Transformation report, which showed 52 per cent of new trading accounts opened in the 12 months to March 2021 were by women.

Increase in active traders but less so in ETFs 

The AUSIEX SMSF book has grown by an average of 5 per cent for each of the last three years and is made up of 53 per cent Advised (advised and advised platform), and 47 per cent directly held accounts. Advised SMSF new accounts have seen a renewed increase since June 2021, with September 2021 representing a 16-month high.

Over time, AUSIEX has found that SMSF accounts are 30 per cent more likely to trade compared to non-SMSF accounts. SMSF accounts activate faster than non-SMSF accounts, with more than half trading within 90 days of being opened (54 per cent) compared to only 42 per cent of non-SMSF accounts.

SMSF accounts have executed 20 per cent of all AUSIEX trades since 1 January 2020. Since SMSFs are 10 per cent of all AUSIEX accounts, trading is double the expected amount compared to size.

The top 10 most traded stocks for the SMSF segment are heavily weighted towards blue chips, with BHP, Westpac, CBA, NAB, Woodside Petroleum, CSL, ANZ, Fortescue Metals, Macquarie Bank, and Telstra making the list.

However, SMSF accounts are less invested in ETFs compared to other accounts. New accounts held by Gen Z surprisingly have the lowest percentage of ETF investments (19.23 per cent) in their SMSF compared to all older generations, who sit between a range of 27 per cent to 32 per cent.

Those that traded ETFs tended to favour Australian Equities or US Equity ETFs, such as Vanguard US Total Market Shares Index ETF (VTS), iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV), and BetaShares Nasdaq 100 ETF (NDQ). 

AUSIEX also saw some initial interest amongst SMSF investors in newer MegaTrend ETFs, such as ETFS Semiconductor ETF (SEMI), ETFS Hydrogen ETF (HGEN) and very strong interest in BetaShares’ Global Cybersecurity ETF (HACK).

“The long-held view that Australians do not actively engage with their super until they near retirement looks to be changing,” Mr Blewitt added.

“However, this data raises questions whether advisers and fund managers might need to pivot to attract and retain clients who appear to be paying much more attention to their super and the investments within.”

Source: SMSF Adviser

New rules to reduce choice complexity for SMSFs when calculating ECPI

The government has made new changes in its recent legislation to simplify choice for SMSFs when calculating exempt current pension income (ECPI).     

Recently the government introduced to the lower house the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Superannuation Outcomes for Australians and Helping Australian Businesses Invest) Bill 2021 that includes six measures, of which five relate to superannuation.

Schedule 5 to the bill introduces the measure that was first announced as part of the federal budget in 2019 to allow SMSF trustees to choose how to calculate exempt current pension income (ECPI) where the fund has both retirement phase and non-retirement phase interests and a period of “deemed segregation”.

In a recent update, Accurium said that the draft legislation in this schedule is quite different from the exposure draft legislation that was released by Treasury on 21 May 2021, which raised a number of concerns. It appears that the main concerns from the previous exposure draft legislation have been addressed. 

There are two methods for calculating ECPI, the segregated method and the proportionate method. Since the 2017-18 income year, a fund may have to use a combination of the segregated and proportionate methods to claim ECPI in the same income year. Generally, this occurs when there is a period of deemed segregation during the income year, as well as a period where there is both retirement and non-retirement phase balances.

An SMSF that does not have “disregarded small fund assets” (DSFA) must use the segregated method to claim ECPI for a period of “deemed segregation”, while ECPI is claimed using the proportionate method for the pool of assets that supports both retirement phase and non-retirement phase interests.

Provided the SMSF has only account-based pensions, it will only require an actuarial certificate to claim ECPI using the proportionate method for the unsegregated pool of assets.

“The bill amends section 295-385 ITAA 1997 so that superannuation trustees can choose to treat all of the fund’s assets as not being segregated current pension assets for an income year if all of the fund’s assets are held solely to discharge liabilities in relation to retirement phase interests for part of that income year,” Accurium said.

“That is, where the fund has a period of ‘deemed segregation’ and does not have DSFA, the trustee can choose to treat all of the fund’s assets, held during this period, as not being segregated current pension assets.

“This is a positive change from the original exposure draft legislation where it appeared that trustees had to make a choice in relation to each and every asset held during a period of ‘deemed segregation’ as to whether they were to be or not to be treated as a segregated current pension asset.

Under the bill, Accurium noted all assets held during a period of ‘deemed segregation’ will be segregated current pension assets, unless the trustee chooses for all of them not to be, that is, there is only a requirement to make a choice where the trustee does not want assets held during a period of ‘deemed segregation’ to be segregated current pension assets.

Further, making the choice apply to all assets held during the ‘deemed segregation period’, rather than each individual asset, is also a positive outcome.

“This ECPI calculation choice measure has two exceptions. Where all of the fund’s superannuation interests are in the retirement phase for all of the income year, the fund is unable to make the choice not to treat fund assets as segregated current pension assets,” Accurium explained.

“That is, the fund will use the segregated method to claim ECPI. There should be no issue with this exception as it results in the same outcome – 100 per cent of the eligible income claimed as ECPI.

“Furthermore, if the fund has DSFA, it is precluded from using the segregated method, and therefore there is no choice to make. The fund must use the proportionate method for the entire income year to calculate and claim ECPI.

“Just note the change from 1 July 2021 to remove the requirement for SMSFs and small APRA funds to obtain an actuarial certificate when calculating ECPI, where all members of the fund are fully in retirement phase for all of the income year. These funds are permitted to use the segregated method to calculate ECPI, despite having DSFA.”

By choosing to treat an SMSF’s assets as not being segregated current pension assets, during a period of “deemed segregation”, a trustee can use the proportionate method when calculating all of the fund’s ECPI for the entire income year. Accurium said it is expected that allowing this choice will minimise the complexity for trustees and reduce the associated reporting costs for funds. In effect, this allows trustees to apply the pre-2017-18 industry approach to calculating and claiming ECPI.

In relation to the SMSF trustee making the choice, the Explanatory Memorandum (EM) to the bill states that trustees will choose which method to use and calculate ECPI before submitting the fund’s SMSF annual return, according to Accurium.

“This choice is not a formal election and does not have to be submitted to the ATO. However, it is expected that trustees will keep a record of any choice they make and the details of the calculation they use,” Accurium explained.

“It appears that effectively, SMSF trustees will be able to make their choice of the ECPI calculation method on a retrospective basis, that is, as part of the preparation of the annual financial statements and SMSF annual return.

“If the trustee for an eligible fund does not make a choice then, consistent with the ATO’s current view on the application of the existing law, the fund’s ECPI will be calculated using the segregated method for any period (less than the whole income year) of ‘deemed segregation’, provided it does not have DSFA.

“In practice, an SMSF will only be able to exercise this choice if all of the interests in the SMSF are in retirement phase for some, but not all of the income year along with all of the income derived from the SMSF’s assets is supporting retirement phase income stream benefits payable from an allocated pension, market-linked pension or an account-based pension, and the SMSF does not have ‘disregarded small fund assets.”

Source: SMSF Adviser

Who is the expert steering your SMSF?

If you’re not across non-arm’s length expenditure rules or whether a six-member fund would suit you, it’s probably time you got specialist advice. 

While the Productivity Commission’s major report into super in 2018 focused on Australian Prudential Regulation Authority-regulated funds, there were two important findings about self-managed super funds.

First, SMSF members, along with those approaching retirement or with higher balances, were more engaged with their superannuation. Second, the quality of financial advice provided to some super fund members – including those with SMSFs – was questionable and often conflicted.

To quote the PC, “the need for information and affordable, credible and impartial financial advice for retirees will increase as retirement balances grow with a maturing system and given the rising diversity and complexity of retirement products”.

These are telling comments. The PC is saying that SMSF members are engaged with their super – but often can’t get the advice they often sorely need. Yet considering SMSF members total more than 1.1 million, the number of funds is about 600,000 and assets at June 30, 2021 stood at $822 billion, clearly there is an imperative for them to be able to do so.

Certainly, the PC thought so, making the following recommendation: “The Australian government should require specialist training for persons providing advice to set up an SMSF; require persons providing advice to set up an SMSF to give prospective SMSF trustees a document outlining ASIC’s (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) ‘red flags’ before establishment; and extend the proposed product design and distribution obligations to SMSF establishment.”

Three years later, the need for this advice has only grown. The legislation underpinning SMSFs is more complex (including temporary changes because of COVID-19) and, as trustees well know, is subject to constant change. This is why it’s critical that advisers providing SMSF advice have specific SMSF competencies.

Disagreement in numbers

To take three recent examples, the proposed introduction of a retirement income covenant, the Australian Taxation Office’s non-arm’s length expenditure (NALE) ruling and the increase in the maximum number of SMSF members from four to six are all timely reminders of the need for SMSF specialist advice – and why the PC’s recommendation has never been more relevant.

Being able to transact with related parties is one of the attractions of SMSFs – whether it be acquiring a business premise from a related party that is then leased back to a related party, doing your own fund’s bookkeeping or investing in related entities within the confines of the legislation.

Many funds have such transactions, explaining why they need to be fully cognisant of the latest ATO ruling on NALE after changes to the non-arm’s length income rules in 2019. Failure to do so can result in the imposition of significant tax penalties, with some or all of a fund’s income being taxed at 45 per cent.

On the issue of the recent increase in the maximum allowable number of SMSF members from four to six, it might sound like a great idea, but there are risks. For example, more decision makers around the table is likely to lead to more disagreements.

Before adding new members, consideration must be given to how any decisions will be made and whether enduring powers of attorney should be put in place to reduce the likelihood of disputes. In these circumstances, an SMSF specialist adviser is well-placed to tailor an outcome specific to a fund’s situation.

Including as a potential problem the proposed introduction of the retirement income covenant (which aims to increase member engagement with their superannuation and retirement planning) might seem odd considering SMSFs have been specifically excluded from the legislation.

But the absence of a legal requirement doesn’t mean SMSFs shouldn’t consider the retirement needs of their members and retirement products in the market – and this will be difficult to do without specialist SMSF advice.

This advice could include:

  • Developing specific drawdown patterns that provide higher incomes in retirement;
  • Providing tools such as expenditure calculators to identify income and capital needs over time;
  • Providing information about key retirement topics, such as eligibility for the age pension, the concept of drawing down capital as a form of income or the different types of income streams available; and
  • Providing guidance to beneficiaries early in accumulation about potential income in retirement through superannuation calculators or retirement estimates.

In its report, the Retirement Income Review said a simplification of the superannuation system should be a policy imperative. It’s a motherhood statement that everyone concurs with. The only problem is that most legislative and regulatory changes tend to add complexity to the system, making it progressively more difficult for SMSFs to navigate the system. Specialist advice would seem one way to stay inside the regulatory fence and avoid the onerous penalties that can befall those who stray outside.

Opinion piece written by John Maroney, CEO, SMSF Association.
First published in the Financial Review on 5th October, 2021

Self-managed super attracts new members seeking tax benefits

Nobody wants to pay a $150,000 + tax bill if they can avoid it, but this is becoming increasingly common among property investors, and is one of the reasons why more Australians are starting self-managed superannuation funds – including a rising number of people aged under 40.

SMSFs are a legal way to avoid paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in capital gains tax, but industry experts warn people to beware of property spruikers operating in this space.

New data from the Australian Taxation Office shows SMSF member numbers have grown at their fastest rate in five years, with 43,000 more people signing up in 2020-21 to take the total past 1.11 million.

SMSFs require more work than many super fund members are comfortable with, but offer more choice, control and potentially huge tax benefits.

Let’s crunch the numbers. If a median-priced property of $667,000 is bought by a typical investor and sold a decade later for double the value, their capital gains tax can be $157,000. If it eventually doubles again in value, the tax bill climbs above $300,000.

But if that property is held in a SMSF member in retirement, Australia’s superannuation rules cut the CGT to zero after age 60.

These generous tax rules also apply for shares, cryptocurrencies and other investments.

SMSF Association CEO John Maroney says self-managed super funds can now have six members, following rule changes in July, and can become a lifetime family savings vehicle.

Business owners are big users of SMSFs, but Maroney says “it’s got to be part of your strategy, not just because other small businesses or friends at a barbecue are doing it”.

He says renewed interest in SMSFs reflects greater interest in super since Covid hit, and younger people having bigger super balances thanks to years of compulsory employer contributions.

“It’s the cheapest option once you get to a certain size,” he says.

The SMSF Association says combined assets of $200,000 can make running costs comparable with other forms of super, while others say balances above $500,000 are preferred.

You can borrow money within a SMSF to invest in real estate, but beware of property spruikers who overemphasise the benefits of this.

“We encourage people to get professional advice from someone who doesn’t have a financial interest in selling the property,” Maroney says.

“You would need to think carefully about setting up a self-managed super fund just to finance the property side.”

SMSF Loan Experts managing director Yannick Ieko says the costs of borrowing within super to buy property have been dropping, and he is seeing more people aged under 40 set up SMSFs.

“You have the freedom to manage things yourself or appoint a professional to assist you,” he says.

“You have complete control over your own super.”

Big banks stopped providing SMSF loans in 2018, but current lenders include Bank of Queensland, La Trobe Financial and Reduce Home Loans, with rates as low as 3.6 per cent.

Paul Dugdale, 39, and wife Kat, 36, set up their SMSF for several years ago to invest in residential and commercial real estate.

“Our annual concessional super contributions, together with the incoming rent from tenants, means that our mortgages can be reduced at a rapid rate and our properties are cashflow positive,” Dugdale says.

“We can also invest in shares and other assets to diversify our portfolio risk.

“Running a SMSF certainly takes more time and effort than an industry super fund and SMSFs definitely aren’t for everyone.”

SMSF PROS AND CONS

For

• Control where your money is invested.

• Ability to invest in property directly.

• Lower costs when SMSF expenses are spread over bigger balances.

• Lower taxes while saving, and no tax in retirement.

• Can borrow to invest.

Against

• Managing a SMSF can be time-consuming.

• A high level of financial literacy is required.

• Auditing, insurance and other costs must be managed.

• No government protection if money is lost through fraud or theft.

• Complexities around maintaining or selling property.

Written by Anthony Keane, Personal Finance Writer. 
Published in The Australian, 13th September 2021
Source: SMSF Association

SMSFs getting increasingly comfortable with crypto

SMSFs have now seen an over 90 per cent increase in cryptocurrency trading across the year, with advisers urged to start getting acquainted with crypto as it becomes a growing alternative asset for clients, according to a report.

The BTC Markets’ Investor Study Report 20-21 has unveiled the data analysis of the crypto exchange platform’s 325,000 users to explore the “what’s” and “why’s” of their crypto investments.

Findings from the report found that the growth of SMSFs trading on the BTCM exchange during FY20-21 rose by 95 per cent.

Based on the data, there has been increased demand from SMSF investors driving crypto investment in a rapidly maturing market.

“We have noticed that SMSF investors are comfortable making significant purchases outside of the more well-known cryptocurrencies into projects such as Ethereum Classic (ETC) and Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV) – indicating their confidence and commitment to research,” BTC Markets CEO Caroline Bowler said.

“Further, companies that invest and trade with us are generally in the small to medium-sized enterprise category and are invariably organisations where the founder is still involved.

“This is interesting because founders and entrepreneurs usually have a healthy appetite for risk and tend to be nimbler when it comes to decision-making – a trait that is beneficial for investing in crypto given its dynamic nature.

This result also indicates a longer-term investment timeline whereby Australians are looking to cryptocurrency to build and provide for their future, rather than using it as a “get rich quick” investment, according to Ms Bowler.

“It’s worth noting that cryptocurrency investments are being used for overall portfolio diversification. This is a role traditionally held by alternative assets such as REITs, hedge funds, art, precious metals such as gold, and other collectibles,” she noted.

“This indicates that cryptocurrencies are coming of age in playing an increasingly important role as an alternative asset in the portfolio construction process.”

Looking forward, BTCM said it expects more companies to follow suit in adding digital assets to their balance sheets, whether as a natural hedge against fluctuating fiat currencies or as part of a corporate strategy to embrace modern, open technologies.

Ms Bowler believes there is a clear avenue for SMSF accountants, financial advisers, tax lawyers and to lift their game in getting acquainted with the nuances of crypto, not only for their own business but also for their clients.

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of investors surveyed cited cryptocurrency as the only investment they held and 63 per cent were not deterred by its volatility, rather embracing it as a “risk they understood.”

“In order to stay relevant to this investing cohort, it is time for professional services to catch up with the comfort levels of these investors, rather than waiting for them to be convinced of the benefits of more traditional investment assets,” she stated.

While financial advisers may be investing in digital assets in a personal capacity, regulation prevents them from supporting their clients who are doing the same, as cryptocurrency is not considered a financial product in Australia.

“This lack of professional financial advice can be conducive to investors falling prey to unscrupulous scams and ‘finfluencers’ if they don’t do their due diligence.

“Further building the case for regulation of cryptocurrency in Australia, 28 per cent of respondents said that a lack of regulation was a challenge when investing, while 32 per cent said a lack of understanding on the tax treatment of crypto investment was a hindrance.”

Once crypto becomes a regulated financial instrument, which is currently being addressed by Senator Andrew Bragg’s select committee, Ms Bowler said investors and their advisers would likely gain greater confidence about operating in the crypto sector.

“In the meantime, educating professional services will be crucial,” she concluded.

However, this comes as the ATO had recently fired warning shots for advisers new to cryptocurrencies to be aware of the components that comprise a crypto asset’s cost base, and to encourage their clients to keep immaculate records.

Speaking at a cryptocurrency forum hosted by the Knowledge Shop on Tuesday, ATO assistant commissioner Adam O’Grady stressed the importance of “getting the cost base right,” which he said has emerged as a leading pain point in the tax treatment of cryptocurrencies.

One often overlooked element of a crypto asset’s cost base, Mr O’Grady said, are instances where an investor has borrowed money to invest in cryptocurrency.

“Generally, that is actually part of the cost base,” he said. “Unlike shares that are earning dividends on the way, those interest expenses may be claimable immediately as a deduction in the cryptocurrency space.”

“Because they’re generally not earning income alone, it does actually form part of the cost base.

“But a lot of other cost base elements such as your brokerage fees, or transfer costs, all those sorts of things are ones that you’d be familiar with.”

Source: SMSF Adviser

ATO Quarterly Statistical Report

The ATO has released the June 2021 quarterly statistical report revealing the total estimated assets of SMSFs have reached just over $822 billion, along with a record growth trend in establishments seen across the year.

The ATO has released its Self-managed super fund quarterly statistical report – June 2021, revealing the latest statistics on the SMSF sector.

The report shows that there are now approximately 597,900 SMSFs and an estimated 1,114,529 members. These figures point to increased growth in total fund numbers, which have increased to 4 per cent from the last financial year, compared with the yearly average of around 2 per cent each year over the last five years.

The total estimated assets of SMSFs increased from $787 billion in the March 2021 quarter to just over $822 billion in June 2021. The top asset types held by SMSFs (by value) are listed shares (28 per cent of total estimated SMSF assets) and cash and term deposits (18 per cent). 

 

This 2020-21 financial year saw more than 25,312 new SMSF establishments showing continued growth compared with previous years, while wind-ups have also hit record lows with 2,187 recorded, around an 80 per cent drop from previous year averages. 

Fifty-three per cent of SMSF members are male and 47 per cent are female, while 86 per cent of all SMSF members are 45 years or older.

Individuals aged 35 to 44 continue to make up the majority of most of the new establishments and have now risen to 10.7 per cent in total age distribution of members in SMSFs as at the end of June 2021.

The average assets per SMSF member were $696,000 and the average assets per SMSF were $1.3 million. The median assets per member was around $414,912, while the median assets per SMSF had increased up to $733,926. 

Meanwhile, member contributions into SMSFs were up to $12.6 billion, while employer contributions into SMSFs were around $5.4 billion.

A more detailed overview of the ATO statistical report can be found here.

Source: SMSF Adviser

Timing opportunities to utilise shares as contributions for SMSFs

SMSFs may be able to utilise planning opportunities for shares through the in-specie contribution process and create a better tax environment for the fund position, according to a wealth adviser.

In a recent update, Creation Wealth director Andrew Zbik said that while the market volatility and uncertainty during the past year and a half of COVID-19 have many share investors understandably rattled.

However, this may present a smart opportunity for investors nearing retirement in the next five years.

“The benefits of this strategy are that you can continue to hold your shares and move the ownership of that holding into the superannuation environment which has a lower tax rate compared to many investors’ marginal tax rate,” Mr Zbik said.

“Plus, if the shares are being transferred at a price lower than what you paid for them there will be no capital gains tax payable.”

Most superannuants are able to draw an account-based pension from their superannuation fund tax free. However, Mr Zbik said the SMSFs needs to consider that making an in-specie transfer of shares from your own name to your superannuation fund is a capital gains event. This means that if you are transferring the shares at a higher value than what you purchased them you may need to pay capital gains tax.

“If you are transferring the shares at a loss, it means you will retain that loss on your tax return which can be used to offset future capital gains,” he noted.

“So, for some, it may be an opportune time to contribute these shares to your superannuation fund to allow future gains to be made in a concessional tax environment that is superannuation.”

Furthermore, funds must choose a date that the transfer is to take place, properly report the true value of the share on that day as your sale/purchase price and the share registry must be notified of this transfer within 28 days, according to Mr Zbik.

Transferring shares into superannuation will also most likely count towards your non-concessional contribution cap which is currently $110,000 for this financial year or $330,000 if you bring forward three years of contributions and you are aged under 67.

“Ultimately, one would only use this strategy if they anticipate to continue holding these shares for the long-term,” Mr Zbik explained.

“Most members of SMSFs will be able to use this strategy. Some retail superannuation funds will accept shares as an in-specie contribution. Unfortunately, most industry funds are not able to receive in-specie contributions of shares yet, but several are investigating this as an option in the future.”

Source: SMSF Adviser